Well THIS is Awkward

Caitlin Hart
July 11, 2019
last modified: July 11, 2019

Calling all landscape design gurus!

We have a slightly strange yard/front entrance where our front door is actually on the side of our house. We frequently have delivery people coming into our garage to deliver things and guests rarely know where to enter our home if we don’t explicitly tell them. Is there anything we can do in our landscaping to make it more apparent and obvious where our front door is?

Also, I want to add to our curb appeal, what would you do to make the front of our house more appealing?

Adding another layer of complication, because we live in a townhouse and have very strict HOA bylaws, we are unable to change the size, direction, or type of walkway.

Thanks for any and all advice!


Lacking Landscape Fortitude

Comments (18)

  • erinsean

    Will the bylaws allow you to make the sidewalk wider as it goes around your house to the front door? By looking at your pictures, I can see why people have trouble finding your front door.

    Caitlin Hart thanked erinsean
  • junco East Georgia zone 8a

    Can you install a light on the corner leading around to the door? Either a lamppost or on the wall by the corner.

    Caitlin Hart thanked junco East Georgia zone 8a
  • Lee Baer

    Are you allowed to install stepping stones from a point of the driveway to the side walkway? If not maybe outline the walkway with a low growing plant like liriope to bring emphasis to it?

    Caitlin Hart thanked Lee Baer
  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    This may sound odd, but I would be tempted to install an additional, wider walkway starting at a point farther down your driveway and have it meet up with the existing walkway where it rounds the bend to your front door. I would line it with lights or something to draw attention to it, and then plant something in front of the OTHER walkway to disguise/hide it, since that one is really is only there for use by anyone who would be coming around from the garage (i.e., not guests or delivery people). In fact, you could do away with the walkway from the garage altogether if you don't use it - presumably once you've pulled your car in, you just enter the house through a garage door rather than walking around to the front?

    Caitlin Hart thanked biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)
  • Caitlin Hart

    We are unable to make any additions to the walkway including making it wider or extending it. We do already have solar lights lining the current walkway, leading to the door...

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    Oops, I missed that comment about the HOA. That makes it a lot tougher. Are you allowed to add stepping stones or anything of that nature? You might put another set of solar lights on the outer edge of the walkway as well, to highlight it further. It's hard to tell what's going on with the landscaping without a more complete view (if you can take some pictures from farther back in the driveway that would be helpful), but I would start by removing the two shrubs flanking the garage for sure.

  • Olychick

    Are you the only ones with this design? If not, I'd get with others who may have the same problem and petition the HOA for an acceptable modification to all of the units. Perhaps first work with a landscape architect to come up with a proposal all of those similarly situated find acceptable and present that.

  • skmom

    So... basically, your garage and driveway are the side of your house and the front of the house faces... what? Does it face another street? Are you allowed to add a step stone pathway or something from the side of your walkway by the front door going out towards whatever the real front of your house faces? Because I would totally dig up that bush in front of your front door and add a pathway there. Even if you can’t add a pathway I’d get rid of that bush because it makes your front door look like a side door.

  • skmom

    And I’m not usually one for signs or garden flags or any of that stuff, but I’d probably put a cute wooden sign in the shape of an arrow or something with the words “front door this way” in the garden bed to the right of your garage.

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    Yes, as skmom said, the bed/bushes in front of your front door definitely make it look like a side door. I would probably remove that bed entirely and just run the grass all the way up to the walk on that side.

  • branson4020

    You really need to do something to monument that pathway. Way more substantial post lights in place of those dinky path lights. Remove a couple feet of sod on the outside of the walkway and plant a low hedge. Add a garden arbor over the walkway. And I agree - get rid of shrubs on either side of garage.

    Caitlin Hart thanked branson4020
  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)

    I like the arbor idea--it would draw visitor's eyes in the right direction. A cute little sign saying "Front door this way!" would help. I'm sure there are Etsy folk out there that could make a nice sign for you.

  • branson4020

    A sign like this maybe. About 18" wide.

  • hu1967910

    I think "way-finding" is a big deal in the design fields such as urban & regional planning and landscape architecture. A lot of that involves signage. Although you can provide gentle hints with lights and plantings, etc., a more direct strategy might be the most successful and economical. What if you teamed up with your other HOA members to design and buy some consistent and classy permanent signs that say "Entrance this way." Maybe they could be installed on arms underneath a post light? We stick numbers on our houses, why not other helpful information? Design classes at universities often look for little challenges like these for their studio projects, so that could be a fun option.

    Caitlin Hart thanked hu1967910
  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)

    Something like this, but on a post. I promise, if you do it, everyone else with a side entry will ask you where you got it.

  • PRO
    Van Zelst Inc

    This is a design challenge that can be helped with landscaping that extends toward visitors as they approach your home along the driveway. Visitors do not necessarily have to see the path as long as you lead them there with cues from the landscaping. See our Design Gallery for planting bed inspiration. If allowed by your homeowners association, perhaps also add a vertical element where the walkway changes direction to indicate the presence of a path. This element would add height and interest - it could be a fountain, sculpture, bench or colorful planted container.

  • nickel_kg

    1000 likes for Anna's sign, above.

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